Is Trying Too Hard Counterproductive?

I finally have my first running injury. I overdid it and now cannot run for a few weeks. And while this is a bummer, I also feel slightly proud that I’ve managed to acquire a running injury, which is surely a sign that I’m trying hard, right?



Well, not really. The injury occurred because

  1. I wasn’t prepared,
  2. didn’t warm up, and
  3. didn’t pace myself.

In other words, I didn’t plan correctly. But, like most people, I tend to filter this out and focus on the ‘positives’, which of course is slightly odd as this is an injury.

This brings us to the phenomenon of trying too hard aka The Try Hard.

We all know Try Hards when we see them, though paradoxically we never see ourselves in this category. However, I suspect we fall victim to trying too hard at one time or another.

For example:

  • Trying not to knock over that glass of wine causes you to knock it over. Worth a read – how ironic effects sabotage your plans.
  • Trying to get fit (too fast) destroys your health and…
  • Trying to be happy which only makes you feel miserable.

What I noticed about try hards is that they – or at least at that moment – have one thing in common.

Self acceptance. Or rather the lack of it.

Isn’t the reason we/you try so hard, the thing that really drives you, is that feeling that you should be somehow more than you currently are? That you should be happier, healthier, wittier…

This leads to a type of self-sabotaging.

It doesn’t matter how much you have, how cool your smart phone is, or how expensive your car is because somewhere lurks that feeling that you should upgrade your life. And if you could make this upgrade, then you could accept who you are.

It’s a trap.

I read somewhere – sorry, can’t find the link – that pessimists live longer than optimists. (try: pessimism future)


Because they expect less from life. In other words, they accept the world on its own terms. No time wasted hoping or trying to force a change.

Older people who have low expectations for a satisfying future may be more likely to live longer, healthier lives than those who see brighter days ahead, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association

Note that I said force not make a change. You can try to make a change but if you do accept that it may not happen. But that shouldn’t stop you trying, should it?

How to stop being a try hard

I don’t think there is some checklist you can follow. Life is rarely that clearcut. However, I feel that ‘settling’ for who you are is the  first step. Then, does it matter if you don’t have the perfect job, car, house, or whatever. You can get on with your life instead.